Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors recently launched a new report entitled Scaling Solutions Toward Shifting Systems, produced in collaboration with the Skoll, Porticus, Ford and Draper Richards Kaplan Foundations. In this report, we examine how funders can work in more collaborative ways to place longer-term, adaptive and responsive resources to accelerate scalable solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.
In the March issue of Alliance Magazine, Global Director Donzelina Barroso and Philanthropic Advisor Naamah Paley Rose discuss key takeaways from the report and how to apply these findings to your grantmaking. Below is an excerpt from the article.
In recent years, our consultancy firm, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA), has partnered with the Skoll Foundation and other funders to facilitate research, learning events and discussions between grantees and donors around the topic of ‘Scaling Solutions’1. This initiative, launched in 2016, points to a clear need for holistic, systems-based approaches that look at the totality of social problems, not just discrete issues to be solved with a specific grant programme. Moreover, it also recognizes grantees, donors, and communities served as equal partners.
What is driving this shift? ‘Strategic’ philanthropy’s prescriptive and frequently onerous requirements of grantees has not generated desired results. It has often left non-profits scrambling to satisfy donor requirements for programme-specific dollars that omitted any general operating support. In addition to stretching the resources of leaner non-profit organizations, it has also meant those non-profits were at risk of ‘mission creep’ to secure additional dollars to keep their work going.
Strategic philanthropy only ‘strategic’ for donors
Hal Harvey, initially a proponent of the grantee-measurement view, wrote a 2016 article called, ‘Why I regret pushing strategic philanthropy’, acknowledging that grantees are often better at strategy than their funders, and that the implication that funders should dictate all strategy was harmful to the field. His arguments align with our research findings. Both support a collaborative approach to creating intervention strategies.
Along with this understanding is an openness to examining the internal processes and assumptions within which funders work. Why are we doing something a particular way? Are we structured to maximize our impact in a field? To us, a key component of achieving long-term, ambitious goals is to help donors to adopt flexible approaches which acknowledge the multifaceted nature of the social and environmental problems they are addressing.
Based on interviews with dozens of social entrepreneurs and meetings with over 100 donors of different sizes and from different geographic regions, our ‘Scaling Solutions’ work brings five such approaches to the fore: empower, accelerate, learn, collaborate and streamline.Back to News